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Where Did You Go to Cropping School?

For years I’ve been asked the question, “Is it okay to crop a person’s forehead?” Maybe it’s time to shed some light on the subject of portraits and people cropping.

The short answer is, yes, it’s okay. In fact, there are no formal cropping rules whatsoever. The only guide I follow is doing whatever makes a person (or personality) more interesting and fits the required space. But some folks are under the impression that you should never crop out any part of a person’s head, hair, etc. That’s a valid approach—if the portrait is meant for the FBI’s “most wanted” list. Or if it’s for your daughter’s senior portrait in her high school yearbook, which no doubt required some serious mirror time and expense. The only other situation in which standard cropping is acceptable—well above the head, beyond the ears, and well below the chin—is when it’s for your ID badge or your driver’s license. But do any of us really expect those pics to be good?

I have no idea why this topic is so sensitive. But I’ve been asked to un-crop photos of some very important people (usually the client’s client, or the client’s boss), because I violated the driver’s license rule. To demonstrate my point, take a look at the pics below (with apologies for using yours truly as a subject—but this keeps it safe). So which one do you like?



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